Doctor Who Easter Special: Planet of the Dead C
With no actual Doctor Who series this year and Tenant shortly to depart the franchise, I really had high hopes for this Doctor Who adventure, Planet of the Dead, especially after the giant Transformers-style Cyberman extravaganza of the Christmas episode. Unfortunately, for the most part, the Easter special pretty much fails to live up to expectation.
Planet of the Dead begins with a Mission Impossible style gallery robbery, which might have been interesting if it hadnít been done ten years ago in Mission Impossible. And who is our mysterious thief? None other than Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan (okay, so if anybodyís gonna be able to pull it off, itís the Bionic Woman). Making her escape, she hops on a bus followed by the Doctor who is tracking a wormhole. Next thing you know the entire bus winds up on another planet with no easy way to get home.
As I said, I wanted to like the Planet of the Dead but it didnít really work for me. Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina, a woman who steals for the thrill just felt very contrived. Yes, she was plucky, and Iím sure there was supposed to be chemistry between her and the Doctor but it felt too forced, partly, due to her reactions to everything going on around her. I know sheís a thrill seeker, but the only time she seems to freak out is when she thinks she has dead people in her hair. The idea that she has exactly what they need throughout the episode, right down to the gold cup she stole earlier also seems a little forced.
In the meantime, the writers seem so enamored by this character, Lady Christina, that they let the other characters on the bus just sit there. Well, not exactly, they each had ďjobsĒ to do, but it felt more like keeping the other bus characters occupied, unlike in other episodes where you might really have gotten to know these characters. The only character that does have any significance on the bus is a psychic woman who tells the Doctor that his Song is nearly ended; and again, we have a character purely there to service the story.
The addition of an alien space craft that crashed on the planet felt like a head scratcher. Why even bother having the aliens in them? Why not just have a derelict ship, seeing as how the writers neatly kill off the alien characters, while allowing the Doctor to get precisely what he needs to get the bus off the planet.
Planet of the Dead ends with Christina begging to go with the Doctor. But since we all know that he only has three specials left, itís no real shocker that he says no. He does, however, help her to escape in a now flying bus. One wonders how well that bus can fly. Itís not exactly difficult to track a flying bus.
All this aside, I did enjoy some of the dialogue in Planet of the Dead, particularly the exchanges between the UNIT Captain, Malcolm and the Doctor. Itís just a pity that with just three more outings with the Tenth Doctor a bit more work couldnít have been put into formulating this episode.
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